Journal 20081012 Japan

I woke up early to take a shower and pre-pack for a long day’s journey. Our breakfast was large, as we have now come to expect. We enjoyed our omelette and cooked salmon. We presented our hostess with a postcard from home (Giant’s Causeway, appropriately enough) and a 3-leaf clover pin, which she demonstrated that she would wear. Upon checking out, I asked for the complimentary shuttle bus service, but was told that this was a reserved service. I thought about taking a local bus, but we decided not to risk it (too many connecting trains today), and took an efficient taxi back to Shirahama Station (1700 yen, worth it).

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At the station, Madame Oui discovered “Adventure World”, which is an amusement park that features actual panda bears and a mini-safari. Madame Oui wants to come back for that experience. The train journey itself, again, didn’t seem to take as long as expected, perhaps because these journeys were so comfortable and/or we were excited with anticipation. We busied ourselves on the Osaka-Okiwara Shinkansen writing out our postcards. Not an easy task when speeding along at what, 200 mph?

Our Inside Japan guidebook advised us to (a) use the luggage forwarding service for our large cases (takyubin), and just bring day packs to Honkan, and (b) use our local 3-day pass to take the bus service. Well, we weren’t confident enough to use the luggage forwarding service (afraid our bad Japanese competency would lead to miscommunication; no English on the forms). We followed the instructions for getting to Honkan by train, and it was a breeze. It also meant we didn’t have to try to cram our larger cases onto a local bus. We arrived at Tonosawa station and mostly wheeled our cases down the long path. Although the provided directions from there weren’t clear (erroneously turning left instead of right at the foot of the trail), we soon found our way.

I suspected something good was in store at Ichinoyu Honkan when the host produced a darker coloured set of slippers for us. While we had enjoyed the experience of having some Japanese meals served in our room, we were also happy to learn that here you eat in a communal restaurant. We also liked the fact that you could eat breakfast anytime between 8-9.30am. The supplied sheet of paper was also the best set of instructions as to the etiquette of public bathing, wearing a yukata (informal cotton kimono), and making your futon bedding.

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Although I had to hoist our cases up two flights of stairs (only myself to blame for bringing them with us), the reward was mighty. Our room was an extra large suite, and most impressive. The main room was large and clean, with attractive furniture, but the coup de grâce was the stunning views from the corner porch area that overlooked the rapids from the river. Breathtaking. This time, I remembered to promptly get the camera out for some photos and videos, which included Madame Oui sitting back and taking it all in. We enjoyed several cups of green tea and some buns.

We got a good back corner table for dinner, and beef sukiyaki was the meal of the day. It was actually a relief to sit at a table instead of eating seated on the floor. I liked this meal because I was able to eat almost everything served to me, i.e. not too many raw or vinegar soaked items.

After dinner we thought we’d go for a stroll outdoors, wearing our yakata and tanzen. We put on our outdoor sandals, alas not wooden togs, and off we went towards Hokate town. Actually, we didn’t get very far because we soon realised that this immediate area wasn’t meant meant for pedestrians. We returned and remembered to ring Pa Beattie for his birthday (failing to get the green box to make an international call by coin, we made a collect call).

We made our own beds (having been confused at the time of registration of what house services would be provided when), and fell asleep to the rushing river behind us.

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